Sunday, December 13, 2015

How I'm Teaching Joseph to Read and All About Reading Level 1 Review

When I'm researching a new teaching method or curriculum I love getting a glimpse into a real family using the method or curriculum.  Especially, when I have questions in regards to Joseph and Down syndrome I turn to the internet for insight.  And it's most helpful to find a blog sharing the nitty gritty details.  Today I'll be sharing the details of teaching Joseph to read.  He's not a reader in the sense that he can pick up a book and read; however, he can read three letter CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and the word the.  He's on his way, albeit very s.....l.....o.....w.....l.....y.  I'll take it though.

Joseph learned his ABC's in the typical fashion:  singing, alphabet puzzles, dvd's, ABC poster (not the exact one we have)

Joseph learned the letter sounds primarily from Leap Frog:  Letter Factory.  I reinforced by using the All About Reading - Pre-Reading Level.  Once that was complete it was time to take the leap to blending sounds and reading words.  And that's where we are now.

I've found the best way to entice new readers is to teach them to read their name.  Name crafts and games are fun.  One thing I've done with Joe is write each letter of his first name on a milk jug cap.  Then trace the caps on a piece of paper.  Write each letter of his name in a traced cap.  Then let him match the milk jug caps to the paper.  This reinforces letter placement and helps them read their name from left to right.  We also make name signs for his bedroom door.  Whenever we go into his room together I point, slide my finger under the letters and say his name.  If I see his name in print somewhere else I point it out.  Maybe it's the author of a book we're reading, or the cashiers name at the store, I point it out to him.  Since we just put up our Christmas tree yesterday, I think this tree name craft will be fun for Joseph (and Peter and Maria, too).

Once they can identify their name consistently, it's time to start putting CVC words together and attempt reading.

Again, Joseph is so visual that DVD's really help.  Another Leap Frog dvd we like is Leap Frog:  Talking Words Factory.  I'm also following the All About Reading - Level 1 program.  

A series of pictures during one of our reading lessons will show best what exactly we do.  The Level 1 reading lessons are too long to complete in one sitting with Joseph.  I also like to review the material heavily before moving on.  Initially, I planned on two short reading sessions a day, but for reasons I can't account for (yeah right) we can only get in one session a day.  At our current rate we'll finish up Level 1 around Joe's 11th birthday (at present he's 7).  I think we better pick up the pace a bit.  I'll narrate the following pictures to give you an idea of how a reading sessions goes.

Amber begins taking pictures as we start on a Fluency Practice sheet.  These are all short (a) words. We only read one line a day, about 7 words.  At the time of these pictures, one line took about 25 minutes to read.  Notice my proximity to Joe as the lesson progresses.  

As you can see, he's a bit distracted by my arm.  I decide to clear away the counter clutter, hoping his focus will improve.

 He pointed, but also got distracted by the camera.

 Lost it again.  Completely into the camera.  I'm getting somewhat annoyed at this point.

 He's sliding his finger, he's sounding out the word, we're on a roll.

I can actually see his mouth making the (a) sound.  I'm pleased again.

Oh no!  He's looking away again.  I'm getting a little closer to him.  My voice is bit stronger, too.  

I can't take it.  I had to intervene and grab his finger to help him with the pointing.  We're still reading the first word.

Now I get out the word viewer.  It's a little laminated card with an open rectangle in the middle.  It isolates the word or phrase they are reading.  Again, we're trying to eliminate any possible distractions.  Is it working?

That camera young lady must be quite entertaining.

Yes!  He just read tap.  I like to relate each word to something tangible if possible.  In this case he's tapping the counter with his pointer finger.  While he taps, I say "tap, tap".  Then I point to the word again and say tap.

Moving on to the next word.  I'm moving even closer to him because, you know, the closer you are to a new reader, the better they read.  

He just read dad, which happens to be his favorite person in the world.

If we know the sign, we sign it for reinforcement.  He's signing dad.

 Moving in even closer.  He was signing all done and trying to get down.  We still have more words to read.

He read tag so I'm letting him look at the tag in my shirt.  Again, for reinforcement.  With Joe it's not just reading the words, but making sure he understands that these words have meaning.

It's official.  He's done!  See his slumped shoulders and hands down low.  That's his signal that no way, no how is going to read another word.  So we wrap up the reading session and take it up the next day.  I always let him put a sticker at the end of the row he just read.

This is just one portion of the All About Reading Level 1 program.  It also includes practicing phonograms, rhyming words, identifying consonants and vowels, word families, and more we haven't even gotten to yet.  I love this program.  It's laid out in an easy step-by-step fashion allowing a busy mom like me to grab the bag and get to work.  There are many other great reading programs on the market; I've even used some of them.  However, the All About Reading programs have worked well for me now that I'm homeschooling kids in so many grades because the teacher prep is so minimal.  And it works, too.

For those of you that stuck with me to the end....WOW!  that was a long post.

If you would like to visit the All About Learning Website, please click on my affiliate link below.  Thanks a bunch!

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  1. Your son is adorable--love him mugging for the camera!

  2. I love that you showed the distraction and redirection, distraction and redirection cycle. I know from my own struggling learners that is soooo normal, but it's just not spoken of very much. Thank you for "keeping it real". :D

  3. @Merry - Thanks. We think he's adorable most days, too.

    @Robin - "Keeping it real" is all I know. Best Wishes to you and your struggling learners.

  4. Joseph is adorable and he reminds me a lot of my little boy. I have an eight year old son who has Down Syndrome. He knows all of his letters and sounds visually but is unable to hear the sounds in words and doesn't seem to understand the blending of the sounds to make a word, we have been trying for over a year. He also struggles with his speech. Do you have any suggestions.

  5. Lori, first let's remember that a person's worth is not connected to their ability to read. All kids' abilities differ and we need to work within those parameters loving them constantly. It is frustrating, though, when progress is slow or not at all. I will make a couple suggestions, but please remember I'm not a trained reading specialist. My knowledge comes from my experiences of homeschooling our 7 children.

    Joseph's ability to read 3 letter CVC words has been a long process. I started working on this last year, but didn't see any real progress. It wasn't until 2 months into this school that we really started seeing progress. I'm finding it to be a very slow process, but well worth every minute of instruction.

    One thing I'd like to suggest is playing a game we call "watch me talk". As with most people with Down syndrome, Joseph's speech is garbled. He misses sounds as he says words, making it difficult to understand him. Here's how the game goes. I choose a simple board book or early reader. I read a sentence and then have him repeat it. If it's not understandable, I say "watch me talk". Then I say each word slowly while exaggerating my mouth movements. Then I have Joseph repeat with exaggerated mouth movements. Joseph is so used to playing this that I have incorporated it into our daily living. Whenever he says something that is misunderstood, I stop him, say the word slowly, and have him repeat. Lately, I've been spelling the word, too. He likes to leave the beginning or ending sound off words. For example, when he says granola, it sounds like nola bar. I stop him and say GR-nola bar. I have him repeat me a couple of times. As he's repeating me, I will say "G-R says /gr/". Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Another tip and much less time consuming on your part is to watch The Letter Factory dvd. It might encourage him to sing along with the sounds helping with enunciation.

    Hope these tips help. I'm thinking maybe I should do a short video lesson on the first tip because a picture is worth a thousand words.

    Thanks for your comment and question and Merry Christmas!

  6. I know this is an older post, but I just want to say thank you. My daughter has just turned eight and is fixing to wrap up the first grade with K12, an online public school. I had home schooled my two oldest, but when it came time to home school Claire and she progressed so slowly, I choked. But after a year of online public school...ugh, I'm so done. So, thank you, so much for posting this and your other posts I've read about AAR. I've researched reading programs for children with DS, and I just keep coming back to AAR. Honestly, your posts were the deciding factor for me. My daughter's behavior during schooling is almost identical to your son's. It's such a relief to know that other moms are out there trying to do the same thing I'm doing and getting the same slumped shoulders that say "I can't go on." :D I can feel the frustration melting away. Thanks again.:)

    1. Cera, Wow! This is why I put myself (and Joe) out there....to help other families. I know how lonely it can feel homeschooling a child with Down syndrome, even in a big family. We're still using AAR and will be wrapping up lesson 16 (level 1) tomorrow. It is slow going, but there is real progress. I wish you the best and don't be a stranger. Come visit at FB, too. I'm going live Wednesday morning talking all about teaching reading to children with Down syndrome.


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